Thanksgiving arrives in less than two weeks, and along with roasted turkey, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie will come a cacophony of Black Friday and Cyber Monday ads, crowded malls, snarled traffic, flaring tempers and a to-do list the length of the Magna Carta.
Truth be told, most years my home is stripped of autumnal décor and festooned in evergreen garland and sparkly white lights before the Thanksgiving dinner dishes are dry. Every year I aim to “get a jump on Christmas,” and if my holiday shopping isn’t finished by Thanksgiving Day, I consider myself “behind.”
I suspect I’m not alone in this. Our go-go-go culture insists that rather than fully experiencing the present season, we hurry on to the next one. Nowhere do we see this message play out more clearly than in retail stores. Beginning the day after Halloween, Jack-O-Lanterns, creepy costumes and bite-sized KitKats are whisked from displays, replaced with shiny tinsel, red and green wrapping paper and Elves on the Shelves. By the time dusk falls on Thanksgiving evening, the message is as loud and incessant as the carols blaring from every local radio station:
There’s no time to linger over a second slice of pie as the candles burn low.
There’s no time to stroll beneath a canopy of russet oak leaves, the November sun still warm on our shoulders.
There’s no time to relish the gifts of Thanksgiving – family and friends gathered, gratitude, good food, leftovers (and more leftovers) -- when there’s a fence to drape in icicle lights, cards to sign and envelopes to address, presents to purchase and wrap and Nutcracker performances to attend.
Or is there?
This year, I’d like to suggest a different way.
Rather than succumbing to society’s relentless siren’s song compelling us toward what’s next, might we practice being present in this moment, in this day and in this season of Thanksgiving? Rather than heeding our culture’s call to more, bigger, faster and busier, might we lean more fully into the rhythms of the present season and to listen to the call of own souls?
It could be that you don’t know what fully embracing the rhythms of this season looks like. When we are in the habit of living with our hearts, minds and souls fixed on what’s next, we often struggle to recognize what brings us life right now.
If that’s the case, think about the kinds of activities that bring you satisfaction and joy and allow you to feel most like your deepest, truest self. It might be something as simple as watching the chickadees and the cardinals at the feeder outside your window. Or enjoying a leisurely cup of coffee and a quiet conversation with a good friend. It could be cooking a satisfying meal for someone you love, or taking a walk, not to burn off last night’s extra-generous slice of pumpkin pie, but simply to notice and appreciate the remnants of autumn’s colors.
Our culture continually calls us to what’s next and woos us with the false idea that there is something better around the next bend. It demands that we do more, be more and buy more. It fuels our fear that who we already are and what we already have are not enough. Our souls, on the other hand, call us to fully experience and relish in what is right now.
The many gifts of this present season are readily available to us. If we rush by in our haste to get to the next thing, we will miss them altogether.